Dragon Balls (ドラゴンボール) are the namesake artifact of the Dragon Ball series, and The movie sequel of The Amazing World of Gumball. They are orange, crystalline spheres with the ability to call forth the Eternal Dragon Shenron who has the ability to grant wishes to anyone who gathers all seven of them.
In the Dragon Ball: Bouken Special, the Dragon Ball manga author, Akira Toriyama, explains that there are seven Dragon Balls because there are eight balls in Hakken-Den, a famous Edo-era Japanese novel, and that he would have hated for them to be exactly the same number, so he had the Dragon Balls be seven.
Unlike other forms of fiction that involve wishes being granted, the Dragon Balls seem to grant a wish exactly as the wisher imagined it, rather than warping the wish so that it is technically granted, but ends up making the wisher's life even more difficult. For example, when King Piccolo wished for youth, he was not reduced to an infant, but rather, appeared in his prime. Also, when a victim is revived from the dead, they are not undead, but rather, are truly alive. This is likely so that there is a legitimate reason to pursue the Dragon Balls by the protagonists, as they would not have a justification to rely on them if they knew they would never grant a proper wish. Also, unlike wishes in other literary works, Shenron is actually a sentient being; he may be capable of interpreting a wish however he sees fit, but chooses to interpret them how he knows the wisher actually wants, as a courtesy rather than as a rule. Credence is lent to this theory in the movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, where Shenron was asked to move all the dead people back to the Other World. He claimed that he was perfectly capable of granting the wish precisely as it was uttered, but he knew what consequences the Z Fighters were expecting (that the onslaught of undead would be resolved and peace would be restored), and warned them of the futility of the wish.
In the sequel of The Amazing World of Gumball Movie 2. Gumball and Darwin went to search for at seven Dragon Balls, Gumball will ask Shenron and he wishes for repair to the shell of Penny.
Dragon Balls come in sets of seven with each ball displaying the number of stars that signifies its respective number in the set. It was said by Colonel Silver that the Dragon Balls are unbreakable when he dropped a fake Dragon Ball. Vegeta likely did not know this when he ordered Krillin to destroy one before the Ginyu Force took them on Namek. In the Fusion Saga, while Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks is fighting Super Buu, Piccolo says "If you break even one of the balls they can never be used again", which may mean that the Dragon Balls are not completely indestructible or that they are destructible when turned to stone (as they were turned to stone at the time).
Dragon Balls are difficult to find because they are scattered all over their respective planet, or all across the universe or galaxy according to the FUNimation dub in the case of the Black-Star Dragon Balls, and are deactivated for a year after every wish, disguising themselves as stones. To have the opportunity to summon an Eternal Dragon, one must travel all over the globe to retrieve them. As technology eventually progressed, this became somewhat easier, and became relatively simple with Bulma's invention of the Dragon Radar. Though the Dragon Balls usually scatter across the Earth after having been used, Goku stops this from happening once by jumping into the air and catching the Four-Star ball before it can fly away at the end of the Fortuneteller Baba Saga.
Restrictions on the Dragon's powers are set by the relative capabilities of the Dragon Ball set's creator. A big problem throughout the series is that with any set of Dragon Balls is that their creator must be alive for them to function, otherwise they will be stones for eternity, such as in Future Trunks' alternate timeline, due to Future Piccolo's death; this often results in the Z Fighters protecting their creator with their lives. The Dragon Balls are inactive if the model of the dragon breaks; if the dragon is destroyed, the model breaks.
Without a model of the dragon and a set of Dragon Balls (in its plain rock form), it would take about 100 days to create the Dragon Balls (as mentioned by Dende before he modified them). If the creator allows it, the Dragon Balls can be used even if a year has not passed; this happens only once in the series, when Kami allowed Goku and his friends to revive all people killed by King Piccolo, even though it had only been a few days since King Piccolo wished to restore his youth.
Since all seven Dragon Balls must be brought together (though it is unknown exactly what the maximum distance between the balls for them to be considered together is), it is often a sound strategy employed by the villains of the series to find one Dragon Ball and hold on to it, while the Z Fighters go through the trouble of finding the other six, after which the villain will step in and steal them. Since this strategy technically works, but is considered cheap, the Z Fighters do not usually employ it, as they prefer to fight fair.
Old Kai once warned the Z Fighters not to overuse the Dragon Balls. This is elaborated upon in the Shadow Dragon Saga of Dragon Ball GT, since the Dragon Balls are only supposed to be used once every 100 years.
The most well known Dragon Ball is the Four-Star Dragon Ball, being the one Grandpa Gohan had and which Goku kept after he passed away, also being the one which Goku put on his first son Gohan's hat. The Namekian Dragon Ball Vegeta stole, and that was later stolen from him by Gohan, was also the Four-Star Dragon Ball. In Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Second Coming, the Four-Star Dragon Ball is the last Dragon Ball to be collected before Trunks, Goten and Videl summon Shenron, and was also the last ball to be found by Bulma before summoning Shenron to wish back those who were killed by Majin Vegeta at the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament. In the Black Star Dragon Ball Saga of Dragon Ball GT, the first Black Star Dragon Ball collected is the Four-Star Dragon Ball. Later, in the Shadow Dragon Saga, the only good Shadow Dragon, Nuova Shenron, is the Four-Star Dragon.
Earth Dragon Balls
The Earth Dragon Balls are about 7.5 cm (approximately 3 in) in diameter, and they summon a dragon named Shenron. They were created by Kami, and later re-created by Dende. Shenron can grant a wish within its powers as long as it does not kill, create love, repeat a wish he previously granted, surpasses its creator's power, and a few more restrictions. Legitimate wishes include eternal youth, immortality, bringing back a scorched forest or even an annihilated planet. Also, it is possible to return a person to life, although only if they meet certain criteria, like dying of unnatural causes or within the time-frame of a year (half a century according to the Ocean Dub), and each individual can only be brought back once. The Eternal Dragon will grant the first wish uttered after it was called, by whomever is present.
The Dragon Balls were rendered inert three times: the first time was after King Piccolo murdered Shenron shortly after the latter granted him his wish, and was subsequently revived by Kami after Goku proved to him that there were still some good people in the world (originally, Kami had no intention of reviving them due to the purpose for creating them being corrupted by man's greed). The second time was after Kami ended up indirectly killed by Nappa when the latter ended up killing Piccolo who took Nappa's attack meant for Gohan, although they were restored upon Kami's revival. They were then rendered inert for a final time when Piccolo and Kami decided to reunite due to Cell's grave threat to the world. Goku and the other Z Fighters initially did not consider restoring the Dragon Balls, but after Cell wiped out the entirety of the Royal Armed Forces when they attempted to attack Cell during the ten day wait before the Cell Games, Goku decided to find a means to restore the Dragon Balls, even if Kami could not defuse with Piccolo.
When Dende became the Earth's guardian, he modified the burnt out Dragon Balls created by Kami, giving Shenron the power to grant three wishes (two wishes if one wish is used to revive a large amount of people). He chose simply modifying Kami's Dragon Balls over creating a new set because the time it would take to create a new set from scratch was far too long, especially given the imminent threat of Cell. In addition to this, Dende's dragon can grant one wish and then have the other wishes saved for a later time. This was shown in the Buu Saga, when one wish was made to revive all those killed by Majin Vegeta, and then Goku asked Shenron to save the following wishes. Therefore, only four or so months after Kid Buu's defeat, another wish was made to erase the Earthlings' memories of Buu. One obstacle that Dende could not overcome for the new set of balls is that, a person cannot be revived more than once. Like the Namekian Dragon Balls, the summoner must utter a set of words. In Dragon Ball Z, these words are "Eternal Dragon, by your name, I summon you forth: Shenron!" In Dragon Ball GT, right before the Shadow Dragon Saga, the words have changed to "Arise, Shenron!"
It is debated whether Dragon Balls can revive artificial life or not. The revival of Android 17 during the Cell Games Saga does not apply to this because he started out as a human and was made into an android by Dr. Gero. Android 16, who was killed by Cell, was not seen anymore in the series even after the wish was made to revive all of Cell's victims. Furthermore, when Kid Buu annihilated the planet Earth, and everyone (except the evil ones) were wished back, Android 8, who is a purely mechanical Android like 16, was seen giving Goku energy for his Spirit Bomb, but it is possible that he was brought back due to the fact that they wished for the planet Earth to be recreated like it was before Majin Buu's resurrection.
- Someone wished to become a king.
- Oolong wishes for a pair of panties. (Spawned Oceanus Shenron)
- Upa wishes for Bora to be revived. (Spawned Haze Shenron)
- King Piccolo wishes for his youth to be restored. (Spawned Nuova Shenron)
- Reviving everyone killed by King Piccolo and his children.
Dragon Ball Z
- Dende, Gohan and Krillin wish for Piccolo's life to be restored. Then they wish for Piccolo to be transported to planet Namek. (Granted by Porunga, two wishes)
- Mr. Popo wishes for all those killed by Frieza and his henchmen in Namek brought back to life, but only most of the Namekians were brought back as another tribe was killed by Vegeta who did not count as one of Frieza's henchmen at that point. This has the distinction of being the only wish that Shenron was unsure he would be able to grant. (Granted by Shenron; Spawned Syn Shenron)
- Dende wishes everyone on Namek to be transported to Earth except for Goku and Frieza. (Granted by Porunga)
- Wish for Krillin's soul to be moved to Earth, and then to be brought back to life. (Granted by Porunga, two wishes)
- Wish for the Z Fighters Yamcha, Chiaotzu and Tien Shinhan's lives to be restored. (Granted by Porunga, three wishes)
- All Namekians on Earth, except Piccolo and Kami, to be transported to New Namek. (Granted by Porunga)
Cell Games Saga
- A wish to revive all people killed by Cell and the other androids and second wish for the self-destruct bombs in Android 17 and Android 18 to be removed. (Granted by Shenron)
Majin Buu Saga
- Bulma wished that everyone who died since the morning of the World Martial Arts Tournament be brought back to life. (Granted by Shenron) (Spawned Naturon Shenron)
- Note: The following wishes have been saved up, giving them four months until they are able to make their second wish.
- A wish to restore the recently destroyed planet Earth, another wish to revive all those killed since the morning of the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament back to life except for those that are evil, and the last wish to restore Goku's strength so he could completely fire the Spirit Bomb. (Granted by Porunga)
- For all memories of Majin Buu's havoc on Earth to be erased, except from the Z Fighters, and the other supporting characters. (Granted by Shenron, was made is the wish saved up from the last summoning; spawned Eis Shenron).
Dragon Ball GT
- Emperor Pilaf wishes for Goku to be turned into a child. (Granted by Ultimate Shenron)
- Baby-Vegeta's wish for a new Planet Plant to be created and located near Earth, complete with buildings and plants. (Granted by the Ultimate Shenron)
- A wish to restore the Earth after being destroyed by the side effects of using the Black Star Dragon Balls. (Granted by Porunga)
- A wish to revive all the people who were killed during the Super 17 and Shadow Dragon Sagas. (Granted by Shenron)
Note: The reason why Shenron was able to revive those who had already been wished back to life using the Earth Dragon Balls before, was due to the fact that the last wish in GT was not made from the gathering of the Dragon Balls but rather from Shenron appearing without being summoned and granting a special wish for Goku and the Z Fighters before parting the Earth at the end of DBGT.
Dragon Ball movies
Dragon Ball Movie 1: Curse of the Blood Rubies
- Pansy's wish for the end of the rubies.
Dragon Ball Movie 3: Mystical Adventure
- Goku wishes for Bora to be revived.
Dragon Ball Tenth Anniversary Special:
- Goku wishes for Shenron to rebuild Android 8 and remove the bomb inside him.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 1: Dead Zone
- Garlic Jr.'s wish for immortality.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 2: The World's Strongest
- Dr. Kochin wishes for Dr. Wheelo to be released from his icy prison.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 3: The Tree of Might
- Bulma, Gohan and Krillin wish to restore the forest.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 4: Lord Slug
- Lord Slug wishes for his youth to be restored.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 10: Broly - Second Coming
- Goten wishes that his father were there, and an image of Goku appears; though this creates an interesting plot hole. First, Shenron does not appear when Goten tries to summon him; second the sky is not even dark when the wish is made. Also at this point, Dende had powered up Shenron to grant three wishes, though when the Dragon Balls read Goten thoughts about wishing Goku was there to help them, the Dragon Balls still scatter at the end of the movie.
Dragon Ball Z Movie 12: Fusion Reborn
- Shenron appears, but no wish is made, leading to a somewhat comedic ending, with Shenron saying "Is somebody going to make a wish or what?"
Dragon Ball Z Movie 13: Wrath of the Dragon
- Hoi wishes to unlock a box he found. (Tapion was in it).
- As they say their goodbyes to Tapion, Goku and friends mention that they will summon the dragon again to wish all the people back to life who died during the battle against Hirudegarn (this part of the conversation is mentioned in the Japanese version).
Dragon Ball Z Movie 14: Battle of Gods
- The Pilaf Gang wished for youth prior to the events of the movie.
- Beerus asks how to make a Super Saiyan God.